Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

St. Louis police take suspected accomplice to armed campus robbery into custody

[Updated July 31 at 5:23 p.m.]

St. Louis police have taken a suspected accomplice into custody but are continuing to search for the man who allegedly robbed a student at gunpoint by the Danforth Campus Tuesday morning.

At about 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, a student was standing at a bike rack in the parking lot of 276 Skinker Blvd. when a man exited a blue Pontiac Aztec, approached him with a gun and demanded his cell phone. The man then took the student’s backpack before re-entering the car and fleeing the scene.

No one was hurt in the incident. Around noon Tuesday, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department found the vehicle and took a suspected accomplice in custody, though it is continuing to search for the robber and stolen property.

The suspect is believed to be a black male between 20 and 30 years old and around 6 feet in height. The woman currently in SLMPD custody is believed to have driven the getaway vehicle.

“I think it was a group of individuals that were looking to commit a crime and looking for an opportunity,” SLMPD Chief Sam Dotson said. “Unfortunately, this was an incident that occurred, but the good thing is we are on top of it.”

Because the department believes the robbery to have been an isolated incident, it is not changing its patrols in the area, which Dotson said continues to be fairly safe. According to SLMPD statistics, there were only five robberies in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood in the first half of this year, down from 10 in the same period of 2012.

The Washington University Police Department was notified of the crime and sent out a campus crime alert around 1 p.m. Tuesday.

276 Skinker Blvd. is home to the University’s Office of Public Affairs and alumni magazine.

Student Life has reached out to WUPD and is awaiting comment.

Incident reports from the respective departments are below.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department:
Incident: Robbery 1st
Location: 200 block of N. Skinker
Date/Time: 7/30/13 @ 08:20
Victim: 20-year old white male
Suspect #1: Black male, 20-25-years old, 6’-6’2”, 185lbs, dreadlocks, dark complexion, wearing a black T-shirt and black pants
Suspect #2: Black female, light complexion, wearing a sheet over her head
The victim was standing at a bike rack, talking on his cell phone when Suspect #1 exited a Blue Pontiac Aztec and approached the victim, displayed a firearm and demanded the cell phone. Suspect #1 took the phone and the victim’s backpack, which contained a laptop and personal items, then entered his vehicle and fled the scene west on Pershing, then right onto Skinker toward Page. Suspect #2 was seated in the vehicle during the incident. The Washington University Police Department was notified of the incident. The investigation is ongoing.

Washington University Police Department:
TO: MEMBERS OF THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY

INCIDENT: Robbery

LOCATION: 276 Skinker

WHEN: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at about 8:20 a.m.

SPECIFICS: At approximately 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, a student in the rear parking lot of 276 Skinker was approached by a suspect who displayed a hand gun and demanded his belongings. A laptop and cell phone were taken in this incident. The suspect then fled the scene in the vehicle described below. The victim was not physically injured. St. Louis City Police are investigating the incident.

SUSPECT DESCRIPTION: Black male; 20 to 30 years of age; 6 feet in height; thin build; shoulder length dread locks; wearing all black clothing; his face was covered with a cloth with only his eyes visible. The suspect left the area in a Blue Pontiac Aztec, driving off in an unknown direction on Pershing. This vehicle was driven by a light-skinned black female who had covered her head and face with a cloth.

PRECAUTIONS:
· If you are confronted by a thief, give them what they want and don’t chase them as they
leave. Report suspicious persons or activity immediately to the Police.
· Be alert to your surroundings. If you suspect you are being followed, run in a different
direction; go to the other side of the street and yell or whistle for help; or head quickly
to a lighted area, a group of people, or an Emergency Telephone.
· Be extra cautious if someone approaches your car and asks for information.
· Avoid walking or jogging alone and never walk or jog alone after dark.
· Always choose a well-lit path and avoid dark or vacant areas.
· Carry a whistle to summon help.

RESPONSE: Report suspicious activities/persons immediately to the St. Louis City
Police at 9-1-1 or via Blue Light Emergency Telephone. Contact S.t Louis City Police if you
have any information that might assist in this investigation.

Issued: July 30, 2013

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  • Jerome Bauer says:

    Typical shoddy Studlife reporting. When will report on the real culprit, massive socio-economic inequality?

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  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, again, WUPD sits idly by while crime occurs around its jurisdiction. As others have said, they focus on parties and the “drug problem”, while letting violent crime slide by. Just a few months ago, WUPD was spending their time busting a party on Kingsbury instead of stopping a mugging just 2 blocks east on Trinity/Kingsbury. This is a joke. I’m sick of having to be afraid to walk down the block at night. It’s time for a change in the administration.

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  • anonymous says:

    It is time for Chief of Police Don Strom to step down. While his crusade on partying and “drinking games” has been effective, it is time to question whether or not that is an appropriate focus. It is clear that we have a serious problem on our hands when students cannot feel safe when walking around campus and to or from our residential halls.

    WUPD is completely misguided and is in desperate need of an overhaul that focuses on campus safety.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure if we have a serious problem with campus safety, incidents like this being rather isolated and rare, and although I’d understand if students in apartments north of campus feel unsafe, I don’t know if more cops or patrols would really solve the problem. The reality is that just because our south-of-Delmar bubble is pretty safe and affluent, that doesn’t mean we’re totally insulated from the poverty and problems that plague much of St. Louis. And really, if someone can get robbed at gunpoint on a Tuesday morning, anyone can fall victim to a random crime anytime. The good thing is that it just doesn’t happen that often.
      For understandable admissions-related reasons wustl doesn’t really talk about the surrounding areas in St. Louis much, so it wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of students didn’t know that you can drive from Kayak’s to a few of the poorest areas in the city in 5 minutes, and pretty much all of the worst neighborhoods in North STL within 15 minutes. Frankly, we should appreciate our little oasis of security, recognize how bad so many have it north of Delmar, and realize that crimes like this won’t stop as long as so much of the city remains depressed and dysfunctional.

      We could have more cops out to make us feel safe, but that’d only address the symptoms of the deeper problems this city faces. I don’t deny that wustl does much for this city by providing jobs and encouraging and promoting development, but the school should take a greater lead in informing the students about the numerous troubles of STL and also what we can do to help out, and of course, stay safe.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I think you’re probably right that a lot of WashU students don’t really understand the extent of poverty and desolation in St. Louis (at least not beyond the vague warnings to keep away from places above Delmar and to never, ever cross the river to East StL), or how close it really is to our protected and affluent haven, but it’s quite the lofty proclamation to say we have to fix the city or crime will never stop.

        I mean, that’s probably true, given that all it takes for something like this to happen is one or a few detached and desperate lowlifes to take a quick trip south to prey on an easy and unsuspecting college kid, but it doesn’t do much to reassure students of their safety, and doesn’t really offer anything in the way of a real solution. If your point is that we shouldn’t overreact because of the (fortunately) few crimes that do happen, I would agree, but I don’t think we should see crime as something inevitable simply because our school’s not too far from the “ghetto.”

        As the other posters mentioned WUPD should probably focus more on protecting students than busting them, but I’m not totally sure what that would entail. More security around off campus housing (especially around the Skinker area) could be a start, I suppose, but you’re right to note that no amount of cops could stop the rare and random crimes like this, occurring in a generally safe area on a weekday morning of all the times.

        Honestly, I don’t know what the answer is, if there even is one. Maybe WashU should start being honest about the decay that’s devastated so much of this once great, All-American town, even if it’s not beneficial for the image of the school. Because the reality is that though our campus is safe, it’s not like we’re living in some remote New England village or even a thriving urban area: St. Louis has a long, long ways to go. Why we don’t hear that or talk about it more, I’m not sure – a mix of apathy, ignorance, and discomfort, I’d guess – but maybe you’re right that we should use incidents like this to talk about urban problems rather than retreating further into our safety bubble.

        But still, that doesn’t mean WUPD doesn’t need to get their act together. Less focus on weed, coke, and partying, because all of that will happen as long as there’s students here, and more focus on reassuring students of their safety. Beyond that, I would just say we should acknowledge that things like this can happen, be thankful that the victim wasn’t hurt, and move on with our lives.

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